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New Finds from Neapolis Regarding the Cult of the Dead
Nevzat ÇEVİK*

This article presents new finds from Neapolis concerning the Roman period's cult of the dead:
1. Fine examples of rock-cut offering vessels with steps and grooves for posts that were found together in a burial area at Neapolis (Fig. 1), and,
2. A particular example of a cult of the dead stele discovered for the first time at Neapolis and which is generally known from rock-cut reliefs in the region (Fig. 8).

One example identified at Neapolis during preliminary Bey Mountains surveys in 1997, and completely documented in 2004, consists of two chamosorions, stele holes, a stepped offering vessel and an incomplete niche carving (Figs. 1-4). It is understood that the tomb, the stele and the offering vessel were organised in relation to each other, as they were cut from the same rock. The absence of any other graves on the same rock or surrounding area reinforces the connection between the elements belonging to this necropolis.

The necropolis in question is located on the road advancing up and southwards towards the city, after forking off from the road along the top of the sheer cliff leading to the city (Fig. 2). It is arranged on and around a rock rising by the steep and narrow road running in a north-south direction (that is more difficult to use today) (Figs. 2-3). It is in the northern part of the city, where the easternmost rocky cliff begins to become really sheer. It conforms to the regulation of the necropoli along roads which are well-known from the Roman period. The tombs are found only along the cliff side of the road reaching the acropolis and terminate where the city structures begin. There are only a few areas containing a few tombs within the city. The altar discussed in this article was discovered in one of these small burial areas within the city.
The outcrop of rock mass extending from the mountain to the road was used for these two chamosorions and for the other elements (Figs. 1-3). Curiously enough, those elements related to offerings and the cult area are to be found on the skirt of this rocky outcrop, whereas the graves are located on top, as can be expected from the point of view of functionality.

At the end of the rock, there are three holes cut into steps (Figs. 1, 5). Two lie in the same direction while the last is lateral to them, at the end of the rock. The first, closest to the sarcophagus, measures 0.20x0.25 m, the second measures 0.15x0.20 m and the third measures 0.10x0.30 m. Their depths vary from 5 to 10 cm. They do not have any profiles and they have been deformed due to erosion. They are the same as the stele holes cut into the shelf rock tomb of Trokondas at Trebenna, in regard to both their rectangular forms and dimensions. The Trokondas examples measure 10x20-25 cm. These shared dimensions indicate their common function.

To the north of this rocky outcrop is a stepped altar cut into the bedrock (Fig. 1, 6). On the two-stepped podium is a shallow, round profiled basin altar. The steps are symbolic. Many individual altars have superstructures similar to this one. One of the closest parallels hewn in the rock was identified during our surveys of the Lycia-Girdev pasture. Another parallel to this stepped altar was found in the cult rocks in İslamlar. Offering basins cut next tombs are also found at Trebenna. Amongst these Trebenna examples, the tomb type termed 'a round rock-cut ostothek' first identified and named by the author, established next to the offering basins are situated together with chamosorions in the family burial rock areas. Offering basins next to the round ostotheks have various forms, further verifying their function for offerings. These cylindrical holes with a profiled rim function as ostotheks, whereas those with a shallow bowl shaped cross-section, without a profile for a lid, had the function of offering basins.
Somewhat further from this altar in Neapolis, some work on another rock mass at the bottom of the same necropolis rock draws attention, where there are two small rectangular grooves in the rock. Just behind this rises a rock grave with a vertical flat surface and there is a prototype of a big stele relief or the start of a niche-like alcove cut into the rock (Fig. 7).

Another find from Neapolis the author has identified which adds to this picture is an individual stele to date unparalleled in the region (Fig. 8). Although not through its situation, but rather through its function, it is to be related to the necropolis area described above, as they complement each other. Fallen face down beside the necropolis road that climbs up to the city, this stele measures 0.60 m tall, it narrows towards top and has a curved top. It is roughly worked and semicircular on the back, while the front is smooth. Its base is roughly worked as it was meant to be concealed when the stele was placed in its hole and this stele does not have a tongue projection. As a matter of fact, no holes at Neapolis were found suitable to place this stele with a groove for a tongue.

There are examples of stele with plain forms, narrowing upwards and having a curved end, depicted in relief or drawn on a rock surface, that are similar to this Neapolis example that are known from the Termessos necropoli (Fig. 9). The cult of the dead steles are carved from the rock, next to or inside rock tombs and aedicule type tombs and most are of this stele type, while some are only incised in the rock wall. All the steles carved in relief or drawn on the rocks in Termessos are related to the tombs. Numerous stele holes in the necropolis at Termessos provide evidence for the location of these steles (Fig. 10) and all of these were made as part of the cult of the dead.

The Neapolis stele is of the type without a tongue projection at the base. As is known, vertical pillars are erected either by placing the tongues at the base into the corresponding grooves or directly setting the base into corresponding hole. The Neapolis example is of this latter type. The base of this stele was only roughly worked and was narrowed at its base to facilitate its insertion into a hole. Although this stele was not found next to a hole, the holes that were found do correspond to this shape.

The offering basin, niche and stele found in Neapolis in connection with the tombs complement ideas concerning the connections between tomb steles and tombs, with the further contribution of the finds made at Termessos, Trebenna and other settlements. And, for the first time, an individual example of the steles depicted on the rocks in Termessos has been found. Considering the necropolis to which it belongs, this stele is to be dated to the Roman period.

*Prof. Dr. Nevzat Çevik, Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs 07058 Antalya.

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